Whiskey Bar: Come for the whiskey, stay for the food

The bartenders are all incredibly knowledgeable and clearly know their whiskey.

Whiskey Bar and Museum (photo credit: ANATOLI MICHAELO)
Whiskey Bar and Museum
(photo credit: ANATOLI MICHAELO)
‘There is no bad whiskey. There are only some whiskeys that are not as good as others.” This quote by Raymond Chandler, which is on the website of the Whiskey Bar and Museum in Tel Aviv’s Sarona complex, is an apt slogan for this bar, restaurant and museum.
The Whiskey Bar has a lot of bottles of whiskey – more than 1,200 different kinds, but who’s counting? Housed in a Templer tunnel that used to be a wine cellar in the 19th century, and later was used by the Mossad (shh!), an evening at Whiskey Bar and Museum combines atmosphere, alcohol and food.
The bottles of whiskey take up an entire wall of the restaurant, and glow amber in the light. There is a ladder like those used in libraries for reaching bottles on the upper shelves.
I am far from a whiskey expert, so my favorite daughter and I each chose a flight of whiskey from a book of 21 flights on offer. Our bartender, Ariel, asked us which whiskeys we already know we like and then made suggestions. Of the 1,200 whiskeys on offer, he has tried about 800, he said, including some from Japan, India and just about everywhere else.
Rafaella chose a flight from the highlands of Scotland, while I chose one from Speyside. Each flight consists of four whiskey glasses with 25 ml. of whiskey each. Ariel said that a shot in a regular bar is 50 ml., so a flight is the equivalent of two shots.
The bartenders are all incredibly knowledgeable and clearly know their whiskey.
“Whiskey has really grown in Israel in the past five years,” head bartender Grisha told us. “People are starting to understand whiskey and to want to learn more about it.”
Part of it, he said, is that prices on imported alcohol have declined significantly. Six years ago, a bottle of Lagavulin 16-year-old Scotch cost NIS 500-NIS 600, while today it is closer to NIS 300.
Along with our whiskey, we ordered two appetizers: bread with assorted dips (NIS 26), and beef fillet carpaccio (NIS 56). The bread was served in a brown plastic bag and came with green herb aioli that was so good we asked for more, charred tomato salsa, and garlic confit. All were made in house. The carpaccio was served with whiskey aioli, roasted pistachio, and cherry tomatoes with balsamic vinegar seasoning. It was an excellent starter.
For the main courses, we ordered a 350-gr. dry-aged rib eye steak that came with a charred potato and asparagus (NIS 147). While I would have liked a little more asparagus (there was only one single stalk), the steak was one of the best steaks I have had in years. It was cooked perfectly medium-rare as I had ordered, and I found myself chewing slowly to make it last longer.
We also shared a small charcuterie platter (NIS 68), which included two types of thinly sliced smoked beef, and smoked chicken, along with olives. One of the meats tasted almost like an Italian prosciutto.
For dessert, we shared a “whiskippy” (NIS 48), a peanut butter soufflé with whipped peanut butter, cocoa streusel, and chocolate nut ice cream. A great way to end the meal.
I learned a lot about whiskey from this evening. Until now, I always thought of whiskey as an after-dinner drink, especially on a cold night before going to bed. If I wanted alcohol with dinner, I always chose wine. A meal at Whiskey Bar taught me that whiskey can perfectly complement a steak, especially one as good as this one.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Whiskey Bar and Museum
27 David Elazar, Sarona
(03) 955-1105
Kashrut: Tzohar
Reservations recommended